Friday, June 13, 2008

Brain Death

I'm starting to think that work has eaten my brain. That, or cozy apartment living.

I don't know what it is. Things just feel... nice. The problem with me feeling nice and content is that everything just sort of stops. I do a lot of cooking and reading and play some video games and watch some shows and work out and sleep and take showers and use perfume that won't kill anyone and tidy up and it's all very cozy and.. nice.

And I don't know what to do with myself when things are nice, when I don't hate myself. I tried to stir up some self-hate yesterday when I decided to order some pizza and have a beer, but I didn't eat enough to make myself sick (three pieces is my limit in order to subdue an impending sugar crises), and I played video games all night instead of working because I wanted to feel sorry for myself.

Instead, I woke up the next morning and I didn't feel sorry for myself at all. I tried to start a bit of the old, "Oh, I am such a loser stuff," but it was half hearted, because, what am I a loser about? Because I ate some pizza and played Mass Effect? Seriously.

There are too many good things going on to hate myself over. Thing is, I have no idea what to use to motivate myself at all. You spend so long running on self hate (I need to be a writer, need to publish a book, need to experience things, need to date more, need to socialize, need to have a better job, need need need need need) that when you stop, well... needing things, what are you supposed to do to get motivated again?

I used to have this deep fear of falling in love, because I had this deep fear of loving somebody crazily and them not loving me back, and how that would make me weak and useless (which is probably why, until recently, I always dated people who were far more crazy about me than I was about them. I was too terrified to pursue people I was sick over).

And then that heartbreak actually happened, and yes, it sucked, and I was completely heartsick and heartbroken for months and it still aches a little when I think about it, but like any other hurt, it bleeds and bleeds and then scabs over, bleeds a little more, and heals over. So all you've got to show for it is that occasional dull ache.

And you know, in the face of chronic illness, near death, job loss, and staggering credit card debt, heartbreak really wasn't so bad.

So that's not so scary anymore. Now I have something else to face, which is finding myself without that motivator. I ran a lot on fear. Choking, pulse-pounding fear. Fear of being weak, fear of failure, fear of never being good enough, fear of lost potential, fear of, well, fear of fear. Fear of just not doing enough.

I was in the shower the other day thinking about how I was going to get to Macchu Pichu for my 30th birthday, and I was thinking... this is all extra time. I'm dead already, really. All this is just extra time... so much extra time. What a gift.

One of my coworkers shuddered the other day when I gave myself my daily lunch shot of insulin. "I just don't know I could do it," he said. "Stick myself with a needle every day."

"Well," I said, "the alternative is to die in 72 hours."

Some bad things have happened. Not horrifically bad things. I haven't been beaten, raped, shot, mutilated and left for dead in a ditch or anything, but some things I feared have happened, and I got through them.

A funny thing happens when you face fear. It's not an unknown anymore. There's no anticipation, no buildup. Death sucks. It happens. Heartbreak sucks. It happens. Being poor and homeless, relying on other people, shitcanned and deeply in debt, sucks. And it happens. And you go on. Or, in the case of death, you cheat it just a little bit longer. Never inevitably. Just a little bit longer.

Now, though, I find myself a little directionless. I have a great job, a great apartment, a book deal, an actual mattress for my bed. I'm comfortable with my body and my looks. I honestly have no complaints. I like my coworkers. I have few but good friends.

I just don't know what to do with all this. I went out on the porch this morning and transferred some of my basil seedlings into bigger pots. It made me so happy, that simple thing. Simple things make me so happy. Readying comic books out on the porch. Line editing Black Desert on my big new mattress. Reading The Sugar Festival on the bus.

But it all feels sort of... formless. Without real drive or purpose. There's no gearshift grinding there in the back. Nothing telling me to shape up or ship out. No self-hate, no fear. Just this vast stretch of happy nothingness. Some days, I just drown in it, I just let myself go.

And maybe that's what gets to me, that I just let myself revel in it. It's so strange to not be crazy or unhappy or... driven.

I like to think that I just pushed so hard and long to get here that this is just a lull in... drive, productivity. Life. Because though I am happy, I miss that driving force, that passionate desire to do, to live, to push. I need to find that again somewhere, but it's so nice... so nice to just be happy.

I worry that happiness is a dangerous thing. I worry that it's not something we should strive for, but just something you get periodically, a lull between the long stretches of darkness, like the short, sharp Alaskan Summer. Those three months of intense, gorgeous, beautiful life and sunshine that make the 8 months of winter worth it.

Thing is, without the winter, would I have loved those summers so much?

And without the promise of summer, could I have made it through the winter?

I don't know.

I just know that I feel like I'm sinking into a happy life of cozy softness, and part of me wants to just let myself enjoy it because nothing lasts forever, and part of me wants to find some kind of weakness, some kind of fear, some kind of motivation, to make it feel that I'm living on the edge of everything again. To keep me going forward when all I want to do is pretend the world is OK for just a little bit longer

3 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

Olive said...

I work harder when I'm happy because I'm afraid that I'll lose it all if I don't. (Also because, duh, it's easier for me to work when I'm healthy and rested). That is, after the first couple weeks. Those I spent watching TV.

Hannah said...

Ahhhhh. Yes. Familiar.

What I found, and find, is that all this empty space that gets opened up by not being terrified all the time...stays empty, for a while. And then quietly fills back up. And then I start to find myself interested in shooting for things again, but in a much saner, more focused, less desperate way. I could/can start to realize what I want--little things and big things both--and start to go after that, instead of scrabbling madly for anything that I can get.

So, y'know. If apathy sets in and stays, that's one thing. But otherwise, there's a lot to be said for allowing yourself some space and time to just be and to see what surfaces.

Kameron Hurley said...

And that's what I'm trying to do, you know, give myself that space. I guess I was just willing to "allow" myself a lot less time (maybe 2 or 3 weeks) than it seems to actually be taking.

It's been more like 6 weeks, which feels like a terribly selfish amount of time, to me, which is why I think I'm getting antsy about it.

I'm trying to let it go a little longer and see if something presents itself.

Looking, looking... hoping to find that missing motivator.

But yeah, it's amazing how much time frees up when I stop being scared of stuff all the time.

Perhaps I need to learn patience? Patience and trust, I think. Trust in myself that something will come and fill that void, something hopefully far more productive and less hurtful to others than what I had.